Working for wildlife
"Every day is Earth Day at Felix Neck," explains Justen Walker, Education Coordinator at Felix Neck Wildlife Sanctuary. And while this 250-acre Edgartown preserve depends on volunteers year-round, Earth Day is marked by the Massachusetts Audubon Society's Work For Wildlife Day, with a special trio of activities created specifically to involve Island residents in Felix Neck's fragile ecosystem.
On Saturday, April 25, adults and children are invited to participate in Felix Neck's Metamorphosis of Our Butterfly Garden, Bittersweet Blues, and Picnic Table Palooza programs from 9 am to 12 noon. Volunteers will help plant species that attract butterflies, remove invasive plants that threaten native species, and build picnic tables for visitors and campers. Participants will be rewarded for their efforts with a free barbecue lunch.
According to Felix Neck Director Suzan Bellincampi, the Felix Neck Earth Day-inspired programs are designed to protect native species and habitats of the Vineyard, as well as to attract Island residents to conservation activities. "Our programs are created to get people involved," she says. "We try to teach them how to achieve success in an environmental program here at Felix Neck so that they'll be more likely to take the lessons home and try their own projects. In order to conserve, you have to have experienced successes."
Felix Neck's Work for Wildlife Day is part of the third annual statewide Earth Day celebration sponsored by Mass Audubon, the largest conservation organization in New England. Felix Neck's activities have been developed to address the specific needs of the Martha's Vineyard sanctuary. It is comprised of four miles of trails, woodlands, meadows, ponds, salt marsh, and barrier beach.
According to Ms. Bellincampi, more of Felix Neck's current programs involve land use history than in the past. "We have a rich history that we want to share with our visitors and volunteers. Our land was farmed by the Smith family for over 300 years before it became a sanctuary," she explains. In addition to creating new tours and programs, Ms. Bellincampi says that the sanctuary is seeking more partnerships with other environmental organizations both on Martha's Vineyard and off in order to expand its research and educational capabilities.